Bahrain to release prominent rights activist and her child

Bahrain to release prominent rights activist and her child
Bahraini authorities are to release prominent human rights activists Zainab al-Khawaja, who was imprisoned with her one-year-old son in March for insulting the king, the foreign ministry said Monday.
2 min read
10 May, 2016
Zainab al-Khawaja has been arrested and released from jail several times [AFP]

Bahrain's foreign ministry said Monday that prominent human rights activist Zainab al-Khawaja who is in jail with her toddler will be released for "humanitarian" reasons.

The opposition figure was jailed in March after being convicted of insulting the king by ripping a photograph of him. She kept her son, who is reportedly just over one year old, with her in jail.

The foreign ministry said Khawaja's release will be the result of its follow up on the situation of inmates with foreign citizenship held in "criminal cases."

Zainab, who was sentenced to three years in prison in December 2014, is the daughter of prominent rights activists Abdulhadi al-Khawaja and also holds Danish nationality.

Another foreign female inmate, whose nationality has not been revealed, will also be released along with her four-year-old son, the ministry said.

"It has been decided that both of them will be released... taking into consideration their situation and humanitarian principles," the ministry said in a statement, without specifying a date for their release.

Khawaja has been arrested and released from jail several times since December 2011. She has previously spent almost a year and a half in prison.

Khawaja's father Abdulhadi is serving a life sentence following his human rights activism during the 2011 pro-democracy protests in Bahrain.

Bahrain is the only Shia-majority country in the Gulf. The Shia on the island have been objecting to discrimination against them by the Sunni monarchy and calling for democratic reforms.

The demonstrations were put down by the Bahraini government in 2011 with the help of troops sent from the UAE and Saudi Arabia. There have been dozens of deaths and more than 2,000 arrests in the clashes since they began.

The tiny but strategic kingdom is an important Western ally and home to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet.